Nadal vs del Potro, Djokovic vs Nishikori in US Open semis

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Defending champion Rafael Nadal retired from his U.S. Open semifinal because of a painful right knee after dropping the opening two sets, putting Juan Martin del Potro back in a Grand Slam final for the first time since he won the 2009 title at Flushing Meadows.

"I had my biggest memories on this court in 2009 when I beat Rafa and Roger (Federer, in the final)".

They had battled for 69 minutes in the first set before Del Potro eventually took it on a tie-break. "I know I'll have to play at my highest level to keep having chances of success".

Nadal had issues with his knee against Karen Khachanov in the third round pf the US Open, which led to the trainer twice applying tape.

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Nadal has played 13 sets in his last three matches and it appears to have come at a cost.

Del Potro's take: "I like to play always with the number one of the world - doesn't matter the tournament or the conditions or the weather". The two that preceded the Wimbledon classic were easier victories, a semifinal rout en route to the French Open title and a four-set victory in last year's U.S. Open semifinals, when Nadal dominated the last three sets.

The world number one had spent more almost 16 hours on court in reaching the last four, averaging more than four hours a match during the last three rounds, and that took its toll here.

The players enjoyed more comfortable temperatures of 24 degrees Celsius in NY as both men entered a cauldron-like atmosphere on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

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The match started with back-to-back breaks of serves and after six good holds it was del Potro who scored another break at 4-4 to serve for the set in the following game. I feel that this is largely due to these fitness concerns, but the lengthy rest period for Nadal is likely to be of great benefit.

"It was very hard to say goodbye before the match has finished", said Nadal, who also retired from Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic in January. "I'm sad for him".

And after an exchange of breaks in the first two games, the opener became perfectly poised until Del Potro unleashed his formidable forehand to move ahead in the ninth game, but he then failed to take two set points when serving for the set. I didn't expect to get in another grand slam final.

Of the now nine grand slams he has played since returning, Del Potro has reached the quarter-finals twice, the semi-finals twice and, at last, another final, where he awaits the victor of Novak Djokovic's clash with Kei Nishikori.

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Isco added: "We're playing very well now; players who didn't score as many goals a year ago are now filling their boots. If we win they will say that we don't miss him and if we lose that we miss him", he said.

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